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Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

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I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Inspiration

Somewhat related to some of the talk about Ellen White as a prophet, is how does inspiration work. There was a discussion going around several blogs about slavery in the Bible. If slavery is bad and the Bible is the word of a Good God, why does the Bible allow for it and in some cases encourage it? It started on Ed Brayton's blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, where he discussed one of the reasons why he can't accept the Bible as God's Word. The conversation has been summed up quite well by Henry Neufeld

First, the starting point argument could be summarized as follows:

1. Slavery is immoral
2. The Bible condones slavery
3. God or God's word cannot condone something immoral
4. The Bible therefore cannot be God'’s word.

He agrees with points 1 and 2. His response to the dilemma is to agree that the Bible is not equivalent to God's word, although he maintains that the Bible is inspired.
My own response which deals with the relationship of the Bible to the concept of God'’s word. There's an unstated assumption almost everywhere in this discussion that the Bible and God'’s word are either equal or unrelated. My argument comes in here and is simply this: The Bible is a human-divine cooperation, and therefore shares imperfections of the human element. There will be things in the Bible that we do not want to implement today.

I think as Adventists, our struggles with Ellen White have prepared us well to engage in dialog about what to do with the difficult parts of the Bible. We have seen how inspiration worked in the recent past. We can vividly see how the Human and Divine interact. If we assume God is unchanging and he works in the present approximately the same as he did in the past then maybe the Bible was put together in a similar fashion. Alden Thompson articulates many of these ideas very well and in fact Henry's post is influenced by Alden Thompson and he references Alden's book, "Who's Afraid of the Old Testement God."

By the way, I highly recommend Henry's blog. He has some very useful articles on God as Creator, Inspiration, and the Bible.

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